A journey with illustrator Michael Driver from graduating to nationwide billboard campaigns

Michael Driver is an award winning illustrator who has had his work featured everywhere from Billboards to your favourite news publication. With his accomplished and playful style, Michael has built a remarkable portfolio full of inventive self-initiated work and commercial commissions. Since completing his degree, he has been signed to MP Arts and produced illustrations for the likes of Washington Post, The Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal and The Observer.

Having just graduated from university. Would you say it has been an important part of your creative journey?

I think University has been a  integral part to my creative journey. I’ve only been out of university a few months and I’ve been freelancing ever since so it’s really testament to how important its been. I don’t think i got the most out of university be it socially or work wise but It gave me time to try things out and explore different avenues and get things wrong. The tutors were also really good at pushing you and being very critical of what you were doing conceptually.

What made you interested in illustration?

I’ve always had a really natural lean towards pictures, I’m dyslexic I was the sort of kid at school that would just look at the illustration and pretend to read. I think theres a couple of things that made me interested in illustration later on,  but the main thing was my interest in music and the visual culture that surrounded it. When I was in my teens I started to go to a lot of gigs and started listening to a lot of really heavy bands, I think thats when i first got into illustration as I know it now. I found the idea that you could make a drawing and some one would buy it and maybe they’d print it and sell a dozen fascinating. so for a long time I fantasised about making horrible t-shirts with corpses and blood splattered writing on. it wasn’t until later on whilst on my foundation that I realised that, that wasn’t really what I wanted to do and actually more commercial realms of illustration seemed to be where I was leaning

How has your work developed since you first started?

It’s changing really rapidly, I’ve been working full time for 5 months now and I already feel like its very quickly moving away from what I left University with. My palletes are getting brighter, My characters have started to slim down and are starting to feel like they belong in a world of their own. I’m not sure if the last one was a bold statement or not.

As a young creative, are there any illustrators who have inspired you?

There are so many really great illustrators out there, and so many i really adore but, I’ll always really love the work of illustrator come musician Keaton Henson, I really like how his creative output is really diverse from music, to choreography sculpture drawing and painting.

How do you develop your ideas for illustrations? And where do those ideas come from?

Commercially I’m given a brief a size and maybe a rough idea as to what the art director might be thinking, then I usually start drawing. I usually use a really rubbish pen like a biro so I can focus on trying to get the idea out and get the composition looking right before working into it.If I use nice pens I start to obsess about silly things like the weight of line and at that stage it’s really not important. In regards to personal projects it’s a bit more of a muddle now than it used to be. some times I just want to draw something really mundane or try stuff out, other times I like to sit down and deconstruct a idea and then go forward with it. In the first half of the new year I shall be dropping a couple of personal projects that I’m really excited to drop. I’ve been a little quiet recently and I’ve been working towards some new things that might or might not be interesting.

Describe your style in 3 words.

Colourful, fun, characters

What mediums do you enjoy working with?

That’s a real tough one! I really love experimenting with things. When I’m making stuff I like to think about the best way to make it through mark making. The other week I made a load of clouds using acetate and acrylic, that was pretty fun. in regards to general drawing just a mechanical pencil will do.

How do you find the working relationship with publications and companies?

Usually it’s pretty fun, sometimes if its a big client I get a little bit nervous and i don’t always get the best image done, when I am nervous i end up over working the roughs or psyching myself into making really detailed stuff which might not actually be deliverable on time. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring illustrators?

Go to university, get your head down, have fun and make the most of it.

What’s up next for you?

I’m working on a few bits and bobs at the moment, including a few personal projects as well as some new commissions for the guardian.

Mathieu Ajan